New health centre for Welwyn Hatfield

A NEW health centre which is set to open its doors this summer has been given a mixed reception. Health chiefs revealed the so-called polyclinic will be based at the QE2 Hospital in WGC. It will be run by a consortium called Ephedra Healthcare. The cent

A NEW health centre which is set to open its doors this summer has been given a mixed reception.

Health chiefs revealed the so-called 'polyclinic' will be based at the QE2 Hospital in WGC.

It will be run by a consortium called Ephedra Healthcare.

The centre, due to open in June, will operate from 8am until 8pm every day and will offer a mixture of bookable and walk-in appointments.


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Patients can also register with the centre, although to do this they would need to sever ties with their existing surgery.

Ephedra Healthcare was formed by partners from each of Welwyn Hatfield's eight GP surgeries, and has been awarded a five-year contract to run the polyclinic by the PCT.

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Dr Peter Shilliday, the consortium's chief executive, said: "As local GPs, we are delighted.

"We have a long history of working together, we know the area and our patients well and we are committed to building on the already good GP services available.

"The new centre will provide better access and greater convenience for patients by opening seven days a week."

When plans for a polyclinic first emerged last year, Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps expressed concerns at the potential impact it could have on local surgeries.

Mr Shapps has now given the news a "cautious" welcome.

"More choice and more services is usually a good thing," he said.

"I wish the new facility well but the overriding concern is that it could lead to an impersonalised service."

But he stressed: "If its existence means that people's local GP surgery closes down, I think people will have different feelings about it."

Labour parliamentary candidate Mike Hobday described the polyclinic as a "major step forward" for the NHS in the borough.

He said: "The new health centre will provide a wonderful new service that will particularly help local residents who find it hard to get an appointment during surgery hours.

"The health centre is great news for everyone who works during the day and those whose local surgery is often busy.

"I'm particularly delighted local GPs have won the contract, and wish them well as they develop this new service.

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